Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No Other Woman

Irene with Charles Bickford

Release date January 06. 1933

“I can understand you getting drunk, but that other woman…”
“Yes, I know how you feel, but you are wrong. That dame didn't mean a thing. She just happened to be a drinking partner…No woman can ever mean anything to me but you…but a dumb egg I am to take a chance on losing you!”
“I'll never let you lose me, Jim!”

plays an important role: the steel mill

Anna (Irene) and Jim (Charles Bickford) are a young couple in Pittsburgh whose fate seems to be attached to the steel mill - the life lying ahead of them a rerun of their parent's lives. Jim being content and striving for nothing more than the position of a foreman at the plant has no understanding for Anna whose goal is to better herself, leave Pittsburgh, “meet fine people and go places”. Despite their different point of views, they marry and Anna -still craving for a change of their predetermined path - takes in boarders to earn some extra money - extra money to give them the chance to leave the steel mill behind. This chance comes when Joe Zarcovia (Eric Linden) one of Anna's boarders and a chemist discovers a dye made from mill waste. Anna being convinced that Joe has developed something important tries to persuade Jim to invest the saved money in a business partnership with Joe. Jim - fed up with boarders in the house and penny pinching - reacts furiously and absconds on a drinking binge. Sober again and loving Anna enough to listen to her, he is accessible for sensible reasons and the couple decides to invest in Joe's dye business. Obviously the trio has stricken a gold mine: the plant is growing, a mansion built, servants are at hand and last not least the coveted son is born.

at last in the mansion - with another curly, cute movie-son!

Could be the Happy End but is not because Jim begins an affair with Margot Von Dearing (Gwili Andre) who urges him to divorce Anna. At last Jim agrees but Anna - being sure that this is only a fling and her husband will return to her - refuses to give him a divorce. The result that Jim sues her for adultery leads to an ugly divorce trial …

the morning after the drinking binge...

With its duration of only 59 minutes, this is a quick shot of a film moving on an incredible fast narrating trail, which is partly one of its problems. Another one is the patchy, uneven story - very strong in the first part, weak and unbelievable in the second half. As interesting as the exposition of Jim and Anna as couple and their life under the shadows of the steel mill is, as regrettable is the turning to this rather conventional story of adultery. I would wish for a film telling me how this rather diverse pair adjusts to wealth and the emerging consequences, telling me how a plain steelworker handles the investment of millions… what I get is another philandering husband sending Irene on her next suffering spree.

the wedding...

This is even more deplorable because the first twenty minutes are absolute worthwhile watching: capturing the everlasting presence of the steel mill with constantly flashing lights, inviting us to Jim's and Anna's rough wedding or making us smell the kitchen odors of the boarding house- all impressively pictured by director J. Walter Ruben.  And there is Irene - only made up with the minimal obligatory Hollywood makeup - showing new facets as plainly dressed keeper of a boarding house, busying herself over greasy pans on the hearth, or as young exhausted bride having to dance all night through with the guests while her groom gets drunk - all of which looks convincing and natural.

cooking for the boarders...

first morning as wife...after a "dancing night"!

Fitting to this naturalness and to the fact that this is still a pre-code is one aspect of the relationship of Jim and Anna. Jim's response to Anna's statement that she will never marry a steel worker is just to laugh mockingly at her, to take her in his arms and to start kissing her…of course Anna melts away and the next scene is the wedding. There is a kind of attraction between human beings which has nothing much to do with being clever or sensible or wanting to get out more than (almost) anything in the world.
Charles Bickford - though not the handsomest guy in the world - offers the required, male self-assurance almost in passing but has to fight like Irene the flaws in the script, which make him look stupid in the second half. Just when I had understood why Anna saw something more than an ordinary steel worker in him! But why he falls for Gwili Andre - another European actress who they tried to invent vainly as “new Garbo" - isn't understandable, obviously this dame is only interested in his money. The fact that Andre neither in the looks department nor in the acting department was a second Garbo doesn't help matters either.

the triangle...

No, I will not recommend switching off an Irene Dunne film after the first twenty minutes but I recommend watching it because of those first twenty minutes - and maybe you want to know how Anna and Jim ended…
Nice Irene tidbit:  in one scene she plays golf,  which was Irene's sport of choice in real life - and as it was with that capable lady - she had a good handicap!

Irene playing Anna, playing golf like Irene...that's
ars imitating life!


  1. I liked that golf scene =) And I really liked this movie too! I had been told that it was not very good but I was surprised during the trial scene! It's really good!

  2. totally. . . that admission during the trial at the end that jim's not the father! In the beginning you wonder why she's marrying him after that scene of "I'll never live here in this soot. . ." and, of course, it's because she's pregant!
    what a classic story!